Rick Warren: Saddleback’s Weight-loss Program
February 1, 2011 Leave a comment
90 pounds is the amount of weight that Rick Warren has pledged to lose during a 52-week church fitness plan. The program was developed by Dr. Oz host of the eponymous daytime tv show, renowned physician Dr. Daniel Amen, bestselling author and psychiatrist, and Dr. Mark Hyman, a metabolism expert. ChristianPost.com reports that:
“The Daniel Plan, based on the prophet Daniel who chose healthy eating instead of the king’s rich foods, is a yearlong, churchwide program to help the Saddleback parishoners get physically healthier. “The Bible says that God wants you to be as healthy physically as you are spiritually,” said Warren in a video announcing the event. “The plan will help you feel better, look better, have more energy, get in shape, and use your body the way God wants you to.” (Source)
The site: www.danielplan.com allows members to track their progress as well as tips on nutrition and shopping. Altogether it seems like a pretty tightly organised church event.
My fundamental issue with this is that it is a faulty interpretation of why Daniel abstained from the food of Nebuchadnezzar. Keeping to the Mosaic Law which proclaimed that: “It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, in all your dwelling places, that you eat neither fat nor blood.”” (Leviticus 3:17) Daniel rejected the King’s food not only because it most likely contained blood and pork, but would also have been consecrated to pagan Babylonian gods. The lesson drawn from the verse is nothing concerning actually food, but is illustrative of greater purity in a pagan culture.
Even to the extent of refusing the greatest food in the land, Daniel remained faithful to God. The Israelites had been captured by Babylonian forces and carried off to their land, they were allowed to try out their new diet for a short period of time.
In our modern context, the first principle of the Daniel plan should be abstaining from consumerism of the world. The essential meaning of Daniel refusing the king’s food was not one of dieting, but of not allowing oneself becoming conformed to the world. A worrying statistic in 2001, I read in the National Geographic was Americans spend about 40cents of every dollar they earn on food cooked outside of the home. While the article was concerned about food safety, I wonder how much we spend on food so much so that we are buying an image. For one, I totally admit, I drink Vitamin Water for the image. I don’t drink it as often now because I’m a poor student. But the image I’m buying is one of an pretender of trendiness and worldly fashions…and it tastes fantastic! Another example I can think of, is Starbucks. They make horrible coffee, but the fact is they have built a reputation of being the quintessential American coffeehouse. Most of what we pay is for the image, not so much the coffee. The movement away from forms, and more towards greater substance both in biblical teaching as well as our living out of the gospel would lead to healthier lives, spiritually and physically.
Moreover, the materialism that appears in our churches what we must fight against. If anything, Daniel was opposed to his physical appearances to his captors, but instead he pursued religious fervour. Is it not more indicative of how we should pursue God, and forget how the world sees us? 1 Timothy 3:15 says: “If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.” If anything, I dislike the use of church time for the introduction of this event. Quite simply, it is not the function of the church. So if the church fails to be a pillar and ground of truth, using secular means to weight loss, how can it begin to convince anyone when they speak of new bodies in heaven? While I’m not saying that we should totally neglect our physical health, physical health should be a natural consequence of good spiritual health. Knowing that God created our bodies and created us with purpose, should spur us on to take care and value human life essential to His glory.
10 days was all they had. Admittedly shorter than the 52 church fitness program that Rick Warren suggests. But Daniel and the other 4 youths who joined him, emerging from the program:
“it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food.”So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” Daniel 1:14-17 (English Standard Version)